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Breaking News Hysteria . . .

Hysteria Reporting by our News Organizations . . .

When I was a kid, the rarely used term “BREAKING NEWS” was, without exception, reserved for a catastrophic event, such as a commercial jet airplane crash or the assassination of a president or prominent political figure.  That’s all been changed by our modern day news-gathering organizations and just about every evening here in my city of Phoenix the evening news begins with what they call BREAKING NEWS . . . and I’ve had a gut-full.  So you get an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll detail it for you from three recent news stories and you can be the judge. These examples are from both local as well as national news that have driven me to publish this brief article that I hope you take a moment to read . . .

  1. On the national news scene, I enjoy the national morning programs and for the most part they are simply awesome entertainment. However, lately when there is a large storm or heat wave covering the USA, they broadcast headlines of hysteria, such as “27 million Americans are in danger of the heat wave covering our Midwest” or “40 million Americans are at risk of severe weather today”. Give me a frickin break . . .
  2. On the local front, Phoenix has become the worst regarding so called BREAKING NEWS. We happen to have excellent reporters, many have gone on to national positions but in what can only be a poor attempt to get ratings, every evening newscast starts with BREAKING NEWS. Three weeks ago, what was deemed as the “breaking news story de jour” was this, and I kid you not . . . “A home in Phoenix was raided by police officials and it was determined that the owner was hording animals. Over 30 dogs were found inside, some thirsty and hungry”. Really? Now I love dogs like all good apple-pie eating Americans. But come one people, not one of these dogs died and this is breaking news? . . . my ass it was!
  3. Third and last in my examples of new organizations gone hysterical was a breaking news story . . . an Amber Alert was issued . . . which, again I feel is a great thing for quickly identifying the potential kidnapping of youth. This particular alert was for a child that had not come home from school. A couple of hours later it was determined that this child had decided to go to a friend’s home after school. The alert was quickly rescinded and the all-clear was issued. Crying wolf one too many times will end-up counterproductive and people listening to may no longer pay attention if we don’t do our due diligence prior to issuing these alerts.

Come on people, let’s put some pressure on our news organizations to be less hysterical and reel it in. The world can be awful enough with terrorism and refugees fleeing terrible places to live without us pouring more gasoline on the fire and getting our briefs in a knot over a whole lot of nothing.

By the way, what pushed me over the edge tonight to write this silly post was the national evening news reporting on last evenings monsoon rains here in Phoenix. This was comparable to what I’d call an average Indiana thunderstorm that would happen maybe once a week this time of year. But if you didn’t live hear and experience it yourself, you’d believe that everyone’s cars got washed down the river and we all are desperate. Well I was here and although it was one hell of a rainstorm, in reality it was no big deal for those of us wise enough to not try and drive our cars through a foot of water. They called it “a hundred-year event” and of course that translates to . . . you got it, BREAKING NEWS.